ALBUM REVIEW: Keemosabe ‘Look Closer’


Stadium indie is, of course, an oxymoron.  The lo-fi, anti-fashion, outsider world of indie, with its roots in punk and its philosophy in sticking it to the man, transported to the widespread acceptance and unabashed popularity of the ultra -mainstream. 

Listen to ‘Look Closer’, the debut album from Keemosabe, however, and you can only conclude that this music is made to be blasted at high volume to a massive audience.  Lighters in the air, crowd surges, airborne beer and audience members singing along at a level of dubious quality and timing – yeah, we’re talking the lot. 

The stadium rock tag is, of course, a bit of a backhanded compliment too.  It has an implication carried within that whatever it is must have been dumbed down and had its interesting corners lopped off in the name of accessibility.  Well, this Italian trio are here to prove that needn’t come with an inherent lack of intellect or innovation. 

Being left to develop and grow a fair distance away from the more tribally obsessed UK guitar scene has given them a chance to use relatively catholic tastes and cross musical lines in the sand that others wouldn’t touch.  They describe themselves as alt rock, but in many ways this is a fascinating meeting point of influences that the band seems to have absorbed by osmosis rather than carefully curated education.  There are definite parallels between Alberto Curtis’ rich, American-accented roar and that of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis, for example, but the band’s song arrangements are ultimately much too restless and ever-changing to be compared too closely to them. 

There are times, particularly on the lurching ‘Anything Anything’, that you could draw a likeness to another trio, namely Muse.  They certainly both enjoy a light romp in the garden of progginess without getting bogged down in its complexities.  Equally though, the drums of Sebastiano Vecchio have an immediacy and irresistible groove that exudes the kind of pop sensibility that Bastille and  Alt J have incorporated into their outlook.  Try their current single ‘Out of the City pt2’ – it’s perkier than a teenager on alcopops and truly catchy enough to deserve that oft overused description, earworm. 

The epic-edged strains of ‘The Valley’, meanwhile, could be Keane at their best or even a less annoying Coldplay, a layer of tinkly pianos and Mellotrons hanging in the air above the song and lending it an almost imperceptible melancholy. 

Some of the best moment are, indeed, when the sonic palate widens to includes a touch of electronics –  ‘We’ll Make It Work’, ‘Eden Alone’ and the filtered, Kraftwerk-like pulsations of ‘The Lights Go Down’, all help to elevate the rockisms beyond the land of the also ran. The latter is arguably the best advert here for the Italians.  It’s big and bold, with a widescreen, explosive chorus, but  drops down to nothing, builds back up again via an excellent spoken word sample, then comes to the boil with lots of unexpected stops and starts and a bout of unrestrained primal screaming.  What’s not to like about that?  Whether you’re in a stadium or locked down in your bedroom, this is a heap of fun.